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PG is 10: The History of Mobile Games – 2014

This year, Pocket Gamer celebrates its tenth birthday.

In internet terms, that’s pretty ancient.

To mark the occasion, and to illustrate just how old and wise we are, we’ll be taking a look back at the games, trends, and general happenings for each of the years we’ve been around. (See 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013.)

We’re now into a year that you might even remember something of yourself: 2014. Nothing? Then allow us to jog your memory.

What were we playing?
If you’ve ever heard anyone spouting that iOS gaming has lost its magic since the early years, just show them the 2014 roster. This was a year in which the ingenious Framed asked us to rejig the panels of a comic book story. Meanwhile, modern-day PC classics such as FTL and Hearthstone arguably found a more natural home on iPad.

It was also another year where Android tended to get many of the best games at the same time as iOS, or soon after. Threes! showed that numerical puzzlers could be as addictive and popular as colour and shape-based ones, while Monument Valley’s isometric conundrums were a beguiling treat for the eyes.

The Banner Saga brought its uniquely norse-inflected flavour of tactical RPG to both platforms, as did the Platinum Award-winning Roguelike Wayward Souls and the cute Metroidvania-style Traps n’ Gemstones.

It wasn’t a particularly great year for PS Vita, with evidence of poor sales leading to Sony scaling back first party development. But the 3DS had a pretty decent 2014, with Super Smash Bros, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, and Mario Golf: World Tour all making an appearance.

What were we playing on?
We were well in tune with Apple’s hardware release rhythm by this point, so we weren’t surprised when the iPhone 6 rocked up with an all new design. With Android sales booming, we weren’t surprised that it came with a much larger 4.7-inch display either, not to mention an even bigger 5.5-inch option in the iPhone 6 Plus.

In Androidland, HTC kept things classy with the beautiful One M8 and Samsung kept things plastic with the Galaxy S5. But it was left to LG to offer something new at the start of the year with the LG G3 and its UHD (translation: very sharp) screen.

Showing that it wasn’t impressed with Apple’s super-sizing, Google got silly at the end of the year with the launch of the Nexus 6 – a whopping great lunk of a phone with a 6-inch display.

What else was going on in mobile?
Early in the year, Google announced that Lenovo would be buying Motorola off it just a few short years after Google’s acquisition.

Sticking with the subject of acquisitions, this was the year that Apple bought Beats – not for its overpriced headphones, as it turned out, but for its hardly-used-at-the-time streaming service.

Later in the year, Google beat Apple to market with its Android Wear smartwatch platform. The first examples hit the market in June, while the Apple Watch wouldn’t go on sale until 2015.

This was also the year that Google launched Android 5.0 with a bold new ‘Material Design’.

What else was PG doing?
In a bit of a first for the team, 2014 saw Steel Media launch its own game. Appy Nerd – Flap Nightmare captured the then-fresh obsession with Flappy Bird.

Of course, we put our own cheeky spin on proceedings, chiefly in the way that the game told a tale of one man’s descent into disappointing handheld console hell.

What were we thinking? About games, mostly. Always with the games.

On a more serious note, 2014 saw the launch of the Pocket Gamer Connects conference series, with outings in London and Helsinki establishing us as a serious player on the conference circuit. Even if we say so ourselves.

What else was happening?
This sporty year kicked off with the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. Despite a fair amount of controversy during the lead-up to the games (this was Putin’s Russia, after all), they passed without incident.

In the summer we had the football World Cup in Brazil, which also attracted a fair amount of controversy for how the additional facilities had been constructed and paid for. On the pitch, Germany won the prestigious prize.

On a more serious note, this was the year that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, and Russia (them again) risked war by annexing Crimea.


What’s all this, then?

The Pocket Gamer 10th anniversary is a month-long celebration of the last decade of mobile games running March 10th – April 10th and featuring a stream of retrospective articles and fun stuff, supported by our friends at Gram Games, Gamevil, JoyCity, Rovio, Nordeus, and Ninja Kiwi. Head over to the PG 10th anniversary homepage for more information.